One of the the emerging trends in nursing home care is the proliferation of care facilities that commonly hold themselves out to be nursing home alternatives. Many of these facilities have arisen in response to consumer demand for facilities that offer a less institutional feel and a cost far-less than traditional skilled nursing facilities (nursing homes).
Depending on where you live, some of these facilities may be know as group homes or residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFE). They are simply not called skilled nursing facilities, because they do not offer any nursing or medical care to patients.
Certainly in some circumstances, these nursing home alternatives can offer a tremendous opportunity for elderly people who may not require the level of care provided in nursing homes. However, despite the differences between nursing homes and RCFE’s on paper, I am beginning to see more and more instances where these alternative care facilities providing inferior care in the following circumstances:
- Admitting patients who require more care than they can provide
- Neglecting patients
- Failing to obtain medical care for patients who are sick or have a medical condition that is significantly deteriorated
I recently saw an article in the Visalia Times-Delta, that highlighted some of of the problems encountered at two RCFE’s in California.
Woodlake Senior Care
The owners of Woodlake Senior Care had their residential care license stripped by the California Department of Social Services following an investigation that determined the operators of the small facility severely neglected the residents they were caring for. On at least three occasions the owners of Wooklake allegedly failed to transfer residents to facilities where they could obtain necessary skilled nursing care.
While investigating the care provided to the three residents, the facility failed to notify any people outside of the facility that residents had developed advanced decubitus ulcers that had become infected and had progressed to the point that underlying tissue and bones were exposed.
The Visalia Times-Delta reported how similar violations were discovered at Rainbow Gardens, another residential care facility for the elderly, when the facility failed to meet take basic care precautions such as:
- Maintaining doctors orders for patients
- Keeping the facility clean
- Ensuring that there was adequate food at the facility
Lack of Regulation For Residential Care Facilities For The Elderly
Like other states, RCFE are subject to the same regulations that foster homes and child-care facilities are– not the more stringent nursing home inspections. In California, this means that residential care facilities for the elderly only get inspected once every five years!
As a lawyer who has worked on cases involving elder abuse and injury in alternative care settings, I strongly encourage lawmakers to reevaluate cost cutting measures that really endanger elders. I would also add, that many of the people living in these facilities are particularly– or completely isolated from the outside world– thereby making such inspections of their living conditions even more critical than likely envisioned.
Nursing Home Injury Laws: California